When I first heard about Strife, one of my close friends told me it was a new MOBA that was in beta. My first thought when I hear “new MOBA” is “Oh God, not another League of Legends or Dota clone…” but I decided to give it a chance after a string of particularly frustrating League of Legends games. What I found was a game that was not only enjoyable, but also significantly less stressful than other MOBAs.
Strife is built around the idea of a non-toxic environment. The Strife trailer, which you can check out here is built on the idea that “Life is toxic, your MOBA shouldn’t be”. While making an online game that is free of harassment and offensive behavior may seem like a stretch, S2 Games has done a fairly good job of creating an environment that is less conducive to negative behavior. When you’re playing a game of Strife, you can only see your teammates’ combined kills and assists. You can’t see their deaths or their individual kills or assists (You can always see your own deaths/kills and gold per minute, however). Though some people may consider this to be unnecessary, it’s often easy to focus on the negative traits players bring to a team rather than the positives.
By eliminating the negatives from the in-game scoreboards, S2 Games has made it so that players view their teammates in a more optimistic light. It’s not about how many kills you have or how hard you’re “carrying” your team, what Strife is really about is how much you’re enjoying the game and the experience of working together towards a common goal. They also grant one player the “MVP” designation to indicate that they’re making the biggest overall contribution to the team. This can mean anything from earning a lot of gold per minute to participating in a lot of the team’s kills. At the end of the game, however, you’re free to look at how individual players stack up in terms of kills and deaths.
Admittedly, some of the more positivity-centric features of Strife may make it seem like a more kid-friendly environment, which isn’t always what the more serious players are looking for. In spite of the way that the game caters to players who would rather avoid conflict, more competitive players will find themselves at home in the MOBA environment Strife offers. The lanes are laid out similarly to League of Legends, with a top lane, middle lane, and bottom lane with towers leading to opposing bases. There are two “jungle” areas surrounding the middle lane leading to the top and bottom lanes with different objectives available for players to contest. The fog of war covers the map excluding your base, anywhere your brawlers (what League of Legends or Dota players may refer to as “minions” or “creeps”) are, and the vision that the players themselves have.
Interestingly enough, there are no types of place-able wards that grant vision in Strife, players have to walk up to contestable sight stones that grant vision of the surrounding area when approached. This mechanic assures that no one person is responsible for vision, but that it should be acquired by anyone who wanders into the jungle. The heroes in Strife (you choose the hero when you queue up and play them for the entire game) are fairly easy to learn thanks to the intuitive level-up system and easy-to-use shop. Although there are only 14 heroes now, the game is still in beta and there are surely more to come.
One of the factors that sets Strife apart from other MOBAs is the customization of items and pets. At the end of every game, you’re given the chance to open one of three chests. Each chest contains a certain amount of food, ore, or resources which are used to feed/buy pets, craft items in different ways, and enchant crafted items, respectively. The pets essentially act as different spells that can be used throughout the game, similar to Summoner Spells in League of Legends. They range from a turtle to a little flying dragon, to a sheep-looking thing and they are all absolutely adorable. The pets grow when you feed them and their respective spells get stronger the bigger they get. In regards to the crafting system, you can essentially use ore to change the base items that more powerful items are comprised of. So if you have a giant sword that is composed of power shards and health crystals, you can change the sword to be composed entirely of power shards if you’d prefer power to health. This offers a whole range of possibilities for different heroes and allows you to come up with creative alternatives to the default items. Using resources, you can then enchant the crafted items you made in order to grant them even more power.
What makes Strife especially different from other MOBAs is that it’s completely non-intimidating. When you load up a game like Dota, with hundreds of heroes and mechanics to learn, you automatically lose a portion of the gaming audience that simply doesn’t want to go through all that trouble. Strife is easier to learn than League of Legends or Dota but it doesn’t compromise fun or competitiveness. It has competitive potential, surely, but it doesn’t disregard more casual players. If you’ve thought about picking up a MOBA but are intimidated by the sheer amount of knowledge you need to acquire, Strife takes it one step at a time and helps you along the way. The cartoon-y aspect of all the heroes and maps also makes it easier to take the game less seriously and more like something you do for fun. While it may not be the perfect game for people who solely want to compete and play to win, that’s might not the point for most players.
Strife is currently in its early stages, so it’s not perfect nor is it expansive but it sure is a hell of a lot of fun to play. If you’d like to check out Strife and sign up for the closed beta, you can do so here.